Consider this post from an expat I do not know in response to a rant on Facebook today:
So happy I’m living in France. So happy I’m living in France. So happy I’m living in France.
Which of the four candidates I favor for U.S. president is beside the point of this post, but let me say that the foregoing quote is one of the milder reactions I have seen especially to the possibility of Donald Trump’s winning the election over Hillary Clinton.
Even as an expat myself, I confess to feeling holier than those who fantasize about leaving their country behind for what I contend is the wrong reason. They despair of one candidate or another leading a nation of more a third of a billion persons and, not incidentally, the whole free world. They seem to think that leaving will improve their lives . . . and theirs alone.
Those who talk about quitting the United States seem to overlook at least four things:
- They remain Americans no matter where they live (unless they are in a significant minority who renounces their citizenship);
- The impact on their fellow citizens by whoever triumphs in November will be unprecedented with regard to a whole host of domestic issues;
- A leader of the free world’s ability to affect international relations can have extraordinary consequences;
- They have the impression that their departure will make them blissfully ignorant of developments in the United States and thus happy.
Just moving to or continuing to reside in another country should not absolve us from caring about those still live in the U.S. It should not absolve us from exercising our constitutional rights and our duty to be responsible citizens.
Turning away from our homeland cannot be counted on to obliterate our concern for those friends, neighbors and kin who remain there. At least it shouldn’t. Nor cannot it allow us to ignore the rest of the world. Indeed, all of us are affected by what happens at “home” wherever we end up.
Although the goal of moving to a foreign country may be to obtain peace of mind, then the underlying result is to try to stop carying about humanity in the U.S. and the rest of the world. It is nothing short of selfish. And cowardly.
Every kind of media keeps us connected, no matter where we are, with the exception of hiding in a cave off the grid. If an individual’s or family’s sole motivation for abandoning the U.S. centers on the election, I don’t comprehend how moving away improves their life, spirit or mood. Instead, I wish that doing so would result in a crushing load of guilt.
Wherever we live, we are still Americans. As Americans, we must stand upright on the moral high ground, not abandon our values. We must remember who we are, continuing to try overcoming our country’s weaknesses as we celebrate our strengths regardless of where we live.
Running away from a situation we fear and loathe is not the answer. Embracing our disappointments, our discouragement our dismay is the better course. Isn’t it?